Blog Vava’u

After clearing the final customs checks at Vava’u township we moved Braveheart out to the outer islands of the Vava’u. Our afternoon was spent diving two very different reefs off a small Island called Vaka’eitu.

We spent our dives photographing and ID-ing fish and observing the subtle relationships between creatures on the reef. As we descended onto the reef flat we observed one of the more well known relationships on the reef between the clown fish and the anemones. Here in Vava’u we most definitely found Nemo. Over the space of two dives we photographed three species of clown fish and sometimes two species would even share the same anemone! As we got closer to the anemones to photograph the clown fish they would take cover in the anemones stinging tentacles tucked well away from any danger.

A Clownfish seeks cover in an anemone

A Clownfish seeks cover in an anemone

Photo: Richard Robinson

A Cleaner wrasse picking parasites of a Trumpet fish

A Cleaner wrasse picking parasites of a Trumpet fish

Photo: Richard Robinson

As we descended deeper down the reef wall to the sand we saw another relationship taking place; small fish called Gobies on the sharing their burrows with the ever-busy shrimp. The shrimp keep the burrow clean while the Gobies act as sentinels at the entrance alerting the shrimp of any impending danger.

During our safety stop on our way back to the boat we more likely than not find a small overhang or depression where fish are lining up to have parasites and loose scales cleaned off by the small striped wrasse. Fish don’t get the opportunity to see doctors, dentists or even have a shower like we do. Reef fish rely solely on cleaner wrasses for their day to day hygiene. Even the large predatory fish like trumpet fish and groupers become harmless as these busy little wrasse dart in and out of their mouths and gills. You feel like you have invaded the ultimate fishy day spa.

We have one more day diving here in Vava’u before we move on to the Ha’pai Island group the day after tomorrow.

By Irene Middleton

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